Ant Cule Reviews... Being Alive

An Extremely Subjective View of Being A Human

Category: Not Recommended (page 1 of 2)

Ant Cule Reviews… Driving for Eight Hours Non-Stop* Twice in A Weekend (Sixteen Hours Total)

* With several stops for breaks

Without wishing to overstate it, driving for eight hours non-stop is an abysmally miserable experience for all involved. I speak from experience, for on Friday and then Sunday I made the journey from London to Bigbury-on-sea, and then back.

Don’t get me wrong. There were things to cherish about the journey. The company; my girlfriend on the way down, then my girlfriend _and_ my sister on the way back. The view (sometimes); we drove past Stone Henge. The entertainment; Desert Island Discs.

Ugh. Me. (NB. Not me, actually from driving.ca)

Ugh. Me. (NB. Not me, actually from driving.ca)

But oh! The numb buttocks! A lament for my unfeeling rump! Hold a vigil, light a candle, pour a libation to my poor old bum. Humans are evolved to walk a lot. It’s an open secret that you have to sit down whilst driving. Thus, driving for a long time is not what we are meant to do. We get uncomfortable. I think the Flintstones had the right idea.

Furthermore, driving is bad for the planet. Or rather the burning of fossil fuels is, and that’s what driving does. Unless you’re driving an electric car, which even so probably burns fossil fuels to generate the electricity. And pretty soon, if it doesn’t do that, it will probably generate a heap of nuclear waste SO THAT’S GOOD. Basically there’s no two ways about it, driving in a car = environmental doom.

There are people driving cars who are not safe or pleasant to drive on the same road as. These are the people who undertake you and whip in front of you, when you yourself are about to overtake a lorry. There are people who give you a wanker sign in front of their two young kids when you’ve reversed to get out of their way on a country lane. I want to like people, I do. But sometimes they make it difficult.

Then there’s the traffic. Cruising down the motorway is one thing, knowing you’re ploughing through those miles. You can enjoy staying alert and lively, and you can revel in obeying the speed limit. But once you hit traffic, and you start crawling through the miles, there are few things more tedious. Don’t even get me started on stopping on a motorway. It’s unnatural.

Finally, there’s just the interminable length of the journey. After six hours of driving there’s still another two to go. Half an hour remaining on the journey feels like a snip. It feels even longer than slogging through this post, if you can conceive of such a thing.

Still…

The most magical weekend here for mom and dad's 60th birthday party.

A photo posted by Ant Cule (@antok87) on

…It was worth it to have the celebration of a lifetime down in Devon for my parents’ joint sixtieth birthday party. It was a special weekend. Not even the loads of driving that bookended it could take that away.

**Overall** I do not recommend driving for eight hours non-stop. Why not go for a jog instead?

Ant Cule Reviews… Getting Caught Photographing The Aftermath of the London Marathon

Okay, I’ll level with you. This one is a little niche even for a website about reviewing specific elements of my life. And yet here I am writing it, and here you are reading it.

Allow me to set the scene. I had been to the shop. Tuesday. Slung over my shoulder, a canvas bag full of gubbins for dinner. My mind ambled this way and that, and walking along the Woolwich Road ultimately led me to thinking about how I’d watched the London Marathon runners doing their running on the Sunday. It seemed so alien, that this road, now swarming with traffic, was home to thousands of betrainered feet, pootling along the ginormous running course. Traffic of a different kind, I suppose.

One particularly striking aspect of the marathon runners was the gleeful abandon with which they cast aside their (presumably free) bottles of Lucozade and packets of energy gunk. Sure, at the time I didn’t begrudge them pelting the pavement with basically full bottles of orangey-sweet goodness, but, you know, over 30,000 runners came through. That shit adds up. And so it struck me that despite a superhuman effort on behalf of the organisers, there still remained evidence of the drink-chucking frenzy that had taken place.

It came to my mind to photograph such a piece of detritus, with the half-formed idea of reviewing what it’s like watching the London Marathon (it gives you motion sickness, the sound of thousands of feet clomping along is very satisfying). I whipped out my phone, and snapped an empty packet of energy-goo nestling by a car wheel. At just that time, someone came walking briskly around the corner carrying some sort of cardboard box. I gawked, open mouthed at him, as if he had just busted me, trousers around my ankles, popping a squat at the side of the road.

And here it is, the photograph that caused all the trouble

And here it is, the photograph that caused all the trouble

Needless to say, he didn’t care. If anything, he looked shocked that I looked shocked. I, meanwhile, waddled off ahead of him, cursing my stupidity. Doubtless he would think I was off to send an email to the council; Subject: Marathon Detritus. I wanted to grab him and say “I’m not a nark, man!” Instead, I cast a furtive glance back at him, and kind of snorted coolly, as if it was all one big misunderstanding.

Overall, getting caught photographing the aftermath of the London Marathon is not recommended, for doing so will surely damage your street-cred.

Ant Cule Reviews… Being Poorly

I looked something like this. (photo from mumsthenerd.co.uk)

The few days before: Notice I’m looking kind of pale and splotchy. Internalise it as just my usual complexion gone a little haywire. Rosalind notices paleness. Claim it’s just my complexion. I’m a pale sort of guy. In the sun I go from pale to sunburnt. Nothing in between. I know nothing of healthy glows. Feel more tired than usual, but otherwise okay.

Sunday: Play football, as is tradition. It’s a hot day. Wear suncream, take drink. Play. Really badly. Feel the heat even more than usual. Tire out even more quickly than usual. Work harder to make up for mistakes. Drink lots of water afterwards. Game ends (last goal wins thanks to my mistake). Stupid body, not doing what I want it to. Walk back to tube station. Feel strange. Thirsty. Hot. Light-headed. Buy water, snack, and head home for lunch. On the tube just stare into space. Get home. Feel odd. Have lunch. Eat half. Feel strange. Drink water. Nothing will tame this thirst. After lunch, feel a bit better. Like myself. Feel guilty that girlfriend has been cleaning the bathroom whilst I’ve been playing football. That doesn’t help anyone. Have a cool shower. Feel a bit better. We go shopping. Stroll around the supermarket. Lean on the trolley. Definitely not feeling right. My stomach is roiling, my head is aching. Just concentrate on shopping. Drive home with the window down. Not a long drive, luckily. Once car is parked I sit there feeling ill. Put my head between my legs. It’ll pass. Try and carry shopping in. Get to turning, and have to throw up. As is apparently perfectly normal, I feel better after throwing up my lunch. Rosalind says it smells of cucumber. Sorry about that.
Lie on sofa. Drink liquids. Get into bed, and snooze. Wake up only to throw up twice more. Sleep.
Rosalind clears up sick. Feel bad.

Monday: Still feeling rotten. Sleep most of the day. Otherwise, lie on the sofa. Watch ‘Frank’ (feat. Michael Fassbender). It’s good, and weird. Wanted it to be funnier. I mean, it was funny. It was also sad. I feel funny. I am sad. At least I’m not throwing up any more. Watch a lot of Community in bed. Snooze. At least I can have toast for dinner.

Tuesday: Feel dozy. Snooze. Get up. Haven’t even got the energy to walk around the house. Watch The Babadook. Which is really good. Why am I watching sad/disturbing films in the midst of my illness? Misery loves company and all that. You know, it could be worse. I could be battling The Babadook. Otherwise, it’s mainly a diet of snoozing, and toast. I haven’t had a coffee for two days. I wonder if part of the illness is my caffeine dependency kicking back. It feels like there’s a fuzzy veil between me and the world. Manage to get enough appetite to eat something that’s not toast. Lasagne, in fact.

Wednesday: Manage to get out and about for a little bit. 2 hours of tutoring. Feel completely spent afterwards. Do manage to enjoy it during the actual teaching though. Appetite returning somewhat. Still kind of grey-looking and feeling.

Thursday: Have a meeting in the morning at Liverpool Street. It goes well. Enjoy it. Have a cup of tea instead of a coffee. No coffee for four days(!). Discover that coffee binds to iron and prevents your body from properly absorbing the iron. Wonder if the amount of coffee I drink (a not-excessive, yet definitely dependency-forming 2 cups a day before this) combined with going vegetarian has lead to me not getting enough iron. It would explain the lethargy. The greyness. My family is prone to that. Need to eat more irony food (and I don’t mean, like, cool, forgotten 70s throwbacks). Finally register at the doctors. No time like the present, hey?

Friday: Feeling more like my old self. Still tired, still fuzzy. Bit better, though. Manage to go to the theatre in the evening, and see Calculating Kindness at the Camden People’s Theatre. It’s really well performed, with a great set, and great lighting. Just wanted the ideas to mesh even more. Something about it felt a little unsatisfying. But still, it was good. The theatre got really hot. Possibly because we were sat just below the lights. It really was distractingly hot. Felt completely spent after that.

Weekend: Mostly relax. Do some shopping, get a herb garden for our balcony. Plant the chilli-seeds I’ve been meaning to plant since last year. Spend time with Rosalind. Start to feel restored again. We play a lot of Xbox (The Lego Movie game – we’re a great team). Feeling restored. Still, need to get a blood test. Will probably pass out when they take my blood.

Overall, I really don’t recommend getting ill and it taking a week out of your life, with the feeling awful and having no energy to do anything. Instead, try eating healthily, drinking less coffee, and listening to your body.

UPDATE: Do nearly pass out when they take my blood.

Ant Cule Reviews… Getting A New Pet

Say “Hello there lil’ fella” to the latest addition to the household.

Be warned, though; he’s cute though perhaps not ‘traditionally’ cute – depending on what your deeply-etched, engrained-by-society expectations of beauty are.

Okay. Without any further ado… Here he is…

Wait wait wait wait wait. I just need to emphasise, okay… He’s not furry or fluffy and he doesn’t have big eyes. In fact, he’s slimy and scaly and has very small eyes. And his breed are quite notorious for their bad tempers. They can be quite aggressive, actually. So, you know. Go easy on him.

Okay. I’ll take a picture now.

Wait, that wasn’t a good one.

I’ll take another.

Okay… Mmmmyeah, it’s okay. I’m just not sure I’m ever going to capture his best side, you know? I’m not sure he has a best side, even. It’s quite sweet, the way he always looks angry. Like he wants to bite you. Like he wants to headbutt you. Like he wants to put you in hospital. Sweet.

Okay. Okay. Here we go:

Isn’t he sweeeeeeeeet?

What a cutie. Like I said, not conventionally cute. We can’t let him out of his cage, ever, unfortunately.

But I really feel like, you know, if he gets into a loving house, how bad can he be?

Ow, he bit me! Ouch! What a prick.

Overall, I don’t recommend getting a new pet, unless you opt for a dog, because dogs are the greatest. Don’t get this guy. I suggest the best way to deal with this breed is to show them that kindness is a better long term solution than meanness, and that thought, debate, listening, and trying to understand each other is better than open hostility.

NB. Clearly, this fresh piece of satire is an April Fool’s prank! The pet we actually got, is this guy:

Ant Cule Reviews… Returning From A Holiday

On the off chance you’ve checked in here over the last week or so and wondered “What the-? Where are all the reviews at?!” let me tell you this: I’ve been on holiday.

We had something of a staycation (as modern parlance has it) and went to Centre (Center?) Parcs. And very relaxing it was too, being in a foresty environment, all bracing walks and cosy evenings in. A very refreshing break.

And now we come to the nub of the review. Returning from a holiday. It’s a different beast entirely to going on holiday. Returning from a holiday signals the end of “official” relaxing time, and the beginning of “feeling guilty for relaxing because it means you’re not being productive” time, aka what the world is pretty much like.

Returning from a holiday always leaves me grateful for the time I’ve had to relax and to read and watch films without the back-of-the-head-tingling feeling that I could and should be doing something else. Why is it that a holiday is the only place I permit myself those pleasures – and pleasures they are for I love relaxing and reading and watching films – without nagging myself?

And I certainly still do these things whilst not “on holiday”, it’s just I feel bad for doing them. For doing them in the day especially. That is something that feels like a luxury when not “on holiday” and like a real delight, like how I would love all day every day to be when “on holiday”. What are these arbitrary distinctions we impose on ourselves? I’m constantly amazed by the invisible worlds we construct for ourselves and the rules we choose to live by. I’m sure that’s probably come across if you’ve read more than a handful of these reviews.

Overall, I would not recommend returning from a holiday, and implore you instead to reserve a little holiday spirit for even those times when you don’t consider yourself “on holiday”. We could all do with relaxing a little more, I reckon.

Ant Cule Reviews… Having No-One To Go To The Circus With

Yesterday I was given tickets to the circus. Two tickets. Bright and shiny. Promising joy and fun and maybe clowns though I’m not really sure about that.

Two tickets, I thought, Excellent – one for myself and the other for… Who?

My girlfriend, alas, was away, else she would have been first on the list, as UK law dictates.

I asked friends. They couldn’t get shifts covered, were working till after the start time, WAS EVERYONE WORKING ON THIS HALLOWE’ED THURSDAY EVE??

At least some were honest and just said they plain old didn’t want to go to the circus.

But what of the gymnasts? What of the trapezists? And the elephants? What of them?

My panic deepened. Did no-one truly want to go to the circus? Would this circus be performed to a room full of empty seats? Does the circus exist if no-one goes to see it?

I never found the answers to these questions as I stayed in and had a bath. I was racked with guilt for not going, though the hot water soon sluiced those feelings off me.

After all, I was given those tickets, I hadn’t sought them out. They had sought me out. And I couldn’t sort out a circus-going colleague.

The worst thing? The thing the clowns would all laugh/cry at?

A friend contacted me this morning, a friend who didn’t want to go to the circus, and who answered on their partner’s behalf with a no. They said they’d mentioned it to their partner this morning. The conversation went something like this:

Friend: Do you like the circus?

Partner: Yes.

F: Would you have gone last night?

P: I wouldn’t have said no.

SO CLOSE! At least the tickets would have been used then. If only. Alas. What might have been.

But I still had a bloody lovely bath. So every CLOWN has a silver lining.

Overall I would not recommend not being able to find anyone to go to the circus with, for the existential and relational questions it brings up, along with the angst for the tickets and indeed the circus.

Ant Cule Reviews… Needing The Toilet on a Long Bus Journey

THIS IS THE FIRST IN A NEW SERIES! 

The series is ‘Requested Reviews’ whereby I review an experience (that I have been through) as requested by YOU, the reader. In order to request a review, either send me a ‘Holochat’ or, if technology hasn’t yet advanced that far, leave a comment! On any of my articles! And it will be added to the list!

This was requested by Kate. And the subject is ‘Needing the toilet on a long bus journey’.

It’s raining. A Sunday.

Yesterday was the worst day of travel of my life (which, okay, isn’t that much of a hardship). I ended up having to fly to Gatwick, when my car was parked at Stanstead. It was either that or fly to Southend. I didn’t even know Southend had an airport. I didn’t even know Southend had running water.

Which leaves me, the next day, to make a weird Ouroboros of a journey, and get a bus out to Stanstead in order to pick up my car and drive it back home.

So I get the tube out to Stratford, and buy a coffee to keep me warm. It’s raining, by the way. Maybe I didn’t set the scene well enough. It’s raining miserably. The sky is heavy with rain, and also, rain is coming down from the sky. It… Well, yeah, it’s raining.

I arrive at the bus terminal in time to see a bus-conductor sell the last of his tickets, meaning ar wait for the next shuttle-bus to Stanstead.

This is similar to the bugger I was waiting for. Imagine it’s raining for full effect.

Now, what I didn’t mention on Monday is that coffee goes through me like water through a sieve. Not literally. That would be WEIRD. I mean it seems to travel through my system very quickly. So by the time the bus  arrives, my bladder is tingling with the early tickles of needing a wee.

Push it to the side, think I. You’ll be at the car soon enough.

It’s raining. Like in Inception when they need a wee. It’s like this is my dream, and I need a wee, so it’s raining.

The bus journey takes about 1hr 20mins. Not excessive for a bus journey, but as the coffee sets to work on my bladder, the pressure grows. After half an hour, I’m crossing my legs. After an hour, I’m crossing them both ways at regular intervals. After an hour and twenty I’m sure I’m more water than man, and more urine than water.

And then the bus drops us off in the middle of a car park some way away from the airport.

It’s okay, I’ll just walk to the car, think I.

Big mistake. It’s raining. I need a wee. There are too many people coming and going to their cars, to and from their holidays, to successfully pass water without prying eyes.

Eventually I stagger to a bus-stop and get on a bus to the terminal. I’ll have to go right the way round.

But at least there’s a damned toilet.

HALLELUJAH!

I’ll spare you the grizzly details. Needless to say, the rest of the journey was a breeze, tired and damp though I was – I was free! Free from the oppressive chains of bladder-pain!

Overall, I would not recommend needing the toilet on a long bus journey. To mitigate the likelihood of such an event, always carry two water bottles with you. One for drinking (hydration is important!) and one for urination. Just don’t get them confused!

Ant Cule Reviews… Having Knees That Feel The Cold

You may have noticed, it is cold in the UK.

If you’re not reading this in the UK, which means ‘United Kingdom’ (even though we have had a queen for a long time), then know this – it is cold here.

Ordinarily I like the cold. I love wrapping up warm, wearing scarves, many layers, hats, gloves – essentially wearing a bed outdoors. And in December I was dismayed that whenever I did that I ended up sweating. I had to suffice with wearing a light jacket. A light jacket! In December!

All of that changed – well, okay, none of that has changed, but still – when I ‘did’ my ACL (which means anterior cruciate ligament) in 2012. Without going into too much details IT WAS TERRIBLE AND PAINFUL. And I had to have an operation, and couldn’t walk for a long time.

The upshot of which is, when it gets cold my knees ache. Boy, do they ache! Dang! One owing to the operation, I suppose, where the doctor rootled around in my knee. The other, probably owing to a changed gait, putting pressure on all sorts of weird parts of my knee.

I can feel a cold snap coming in my knees. In my knees! I’m only just out of my mid 20s! My knees!

All in all I wouldn’t recommend having knees that feel the cold, as it makes you feel prematurely old. For a similar ability to predict the weather, invest in a barometer.

Ant Cule Reviews… Biting Your Nails

I have a confession.

It may be a taboo but to hell with it, I’ll say it.

I bite my nails.

I know! I know! It’s a terrible habit, I know. But it’s so satisfying.

Let me explain why:

  • I save what you all spend on nail clippers, and am thus free to spend my extra cash on (for example) a cool neckerchief.
  • I never spend any cash on ‘having my nails done’ (due to shame at the raggedy state of my nails), and thus can spend that extra cash on exquisite neckwear.
  • My nails never get so long that I am mistaken for a witch.
  • It feels nice, even though I know it’s a disgusting habit.
  • I can kid myself that my gut is getting used to all sorts of germs that you non-nail-biters’ guts aren’t, so when the end of days comes, I will be able to eat gross things.

Really though, I can’t shake it. I just caught myself having a bite. It’s a deeply deeply ingrained habit.

I can remember sitting in the car and seeing my mum bite her nails, and thinking “Okay, that’s what grown ups do. I now bite my nails.” Never mind that soon after that she managed to shake the habit. I never have, even though sometimes I bite too far and that’s really painful. Oof. I wish I hadn’t said that. I feel like just mentioning “biting my nails” will put people off.

I'm really sorry. Here's a picture of my nails bitten to hell. I'm sorry.

I’m really sorry. Here’s a picture of my nails bitten to hell. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

Overall, I recommend biting your nails for the wonderful sensation, and the feeling of relief and comfort that comes from indulging a deep-rooted habit. On the other hand I don’t recommend it for the deep feeling of shame that comes when you realise you’re doing it.

Ant Cule Reviews… Having Cold Hands

As winter finally settles in after the second summer that was December, so my damn hands get colder in the day time.

It’s a creeping kind of coldness that you don’t notice setting in. When you’re in bed, it’s morning, the covers are warm, you’re fine. Hands warm. All is well. But once out of bed… All bets are off. Except the bet that says “Boy, your hands are likely to get cold today.”

And suddenly I don’t have fingers, I have icicles that chill the very face I have on my head. When I touch my face. Which I do a surprising amount, it turns out. I only notice when I have chilly hands.

It also means my hands don’t work as well as they do oftentimes. What can I do to counteract this miserable state of affairs?

Put the heating on? Don’t really know how. Our flat is usually held at a nice ambient temperature.

Put socks on your hands? Then my hand-mobility is greatly decreased.

How about gloves then? Gloves? Inside? What do you think I am some kind of convention-defying bohemian?

Will you at least wear gloves when you go outside then? Oh yes, oh yes, I’m not a total fool.

Rub your hands together really quickly? Ah… Yes… Yes! It’s working! It’s working! Oh no! It’s working too well! Arrrrrrrrgh!

Overall, I would not recommend getting terribly cold hands. Keep them warm by rubbing them together, but not too vigorously lest you start a fire from your hand-sparks.

This is a surefire way to make your hands even colder! (Unless that is some kind of ‘hot-ice’.)

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